One of the greatest scrambles for tickets in south London football history began at lunchtime when tickets for Charlton Athletic’s FA Cup replay at Cray Valley Paper Mills went on sale to away fans.
Just 1,550 tickets will be made available for the match at the Badgers Sports Ground in Eltham on Wednesday night, with Addicks fans only allocated 282 tickets.
The Millers, who play in the Isthmian League South East division, the eighth tier of English football, shocked League One Charlton on Sunday by drawing 1-1 at The Valley.
Last season the club only attracted an average of 171 people to their home league matches, but that didn’t stop more than 2,000 people from crowding into the away end last Sunday to watch the Millers draw with their neighbours, who play five levels above them.
Many fans expected the match to be held at another ground, such as Welling United or Dartford, but the FA confirmed on Wednesday that Badgers would be used.
“Tickets for the match are going to be like a Willy Wonka golden ticket,” commented Richard Cawley, the sports editor of the South London Press, on social media earlier in the week.
Charlton are selling tickets first to fans with 650 loyalty points. Details of how Cray Valley will distribute their tickets had yet to be announced at the time of publication. It will be business as usual for the home team tomorrow as they face Erith & Belvedere in a home league match at 3pm.
BBC2 will be showing the match live – resulting in a £25,000 windfall for the Millers, whether they win or lose. Next week the club’s neighbours on the Middle Park Estate will get a close-up view of the preparations for a live TV match, which could include the installation of temporary floodlights and electronic advertising hoardings.
The ground – formally known as the Artic Stadium – has a stated capacity of 1,000, but Millers chairman Frank May told BBC Radio London that Greenwich Council had permitted the extra numbers after inspecting the facilities.
“The local authority have been down to have a measure up and a count up and are happy,” he said.
“We got wind that it may be on TV a couple of days ago but leading up to that we still had to get the stadium ready to cope with as many supporters as we can get in.
“Obviously we can’t accommodate the whole of the 2,000 that supported us on Sunday but we will try to get as many in as we can.”
Charlton’s failure to beat the Millers at the first time of asking marked one of the most embarrassing moments in the club’s history, with the non-league side gaining in confidence as the match went on. The equaliser was a Charlton own goal, turned in from a cross by Kyrell Lisbie, the son of striker Kevin, who played for the Addicks in their Premier League years.
Last night the Millers lost to Balham in the London Senior Cup – a competition won by a Charlton under-21s side last season. With senior players rested for the FA Cup, an under-18s side lost 4-1 in front of just 55 people.